Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


The Art and Architecture Division contains a reference collection of 125,000 volumes. The portions of the classmark in the Billings Classification Schedule assigned to the Art and Architecture Division include the plastic arts in general: painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, and the minor, decorative, or applied arts. The collection on these topics is intended to be comprehensive, regardless of period, nationality, or language, for bibliography, biography, history, and theory. It generally includes the same topics found in more familiar classification schemes such as the Dewey Decimal 700-750 numbers and the Library of Congress "Class N" Schedule, and makes many of the same distinctions, such as between architecture and formal design (in this division) and the technical aspects of architectural practice (classed as Building, Engineering, etc., in the Science and Technology Research Center). Handbooks, manuals of practice, and similar works are collected selectively both for their pertinence to present practice among artists and designers, and for their historic interest. The books and pamphlets in the Art and Architecture Division range from rare works to currently published materials.1

An extensive collection of periodicals, journals, and bulletins covers the fine arts, antiques, architecture, design, furniture, and interior decoration. Periodicals are held in the Periodicals Section until cumulative volumes are bound. In addition are scrapbooks and clippings kept in vertical files which supplement, but not often duplicate, information found in the book collection. There are bound volumes of engravings, aquatints, watercolor drawings, and other materials on costume and similar aspects of the decorative arts. Most of these items represent gifts from individuals

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interested in particular subjects; they are cataloged under headings such as "Costumes of Religious Orders" or "Collection of Chinese Drawings on Rice Paper." Ephemera, including exhibition notices, fact sheets about artists and people connected with the arts, and newspaper clippings bring up to date the published record for contemporary artists: these ephemera provide a key to past information otherwise difficult to locate. A selective file of illustrations of the works of artists is incorporated into the clipping files.

Mechanical reproduction and industrial applications in the minor arts, physical properties of materials, and technical processes are largely covered by the Science and Technology Research Center. But though most works on optics, pigments, spectroscopy, and similar topics are located there, the Art and Architecture Division does collect some technical works on a variety of topics such as color theory, artists' materials, bronze casting, and ceramic glazes.

Holdings of books reproducing examples of artists' works or styles range from representative to very selective, particularly for picture books of familiar works already illustrated elsewhere in the library's collections, and books with a brief text of no critical or biographic interest.

The arts of all peoples and periods are generally held in the Art and Architecture Division, with the major exception of American Indian art, which is collected by the American History Division, along with the library's notable collection on other aspects of American Indian cultures and languages. Other exceptions include arms and armor, theatrical and military costume, stage scenery, and a variety of special-purpose structures such as concert halls, theatres, schools, libraries, hospitals, fortifications, and bridges. In the periodicals classed in themselves under arts or architecture there is, of course, a considerable body of information on all the exceptions noted above.

Works dealing with engraving (including wood-cuts) and lithography are in the Prints Division, as is material on book illustration. Other book arts (including handwriting, printing, book illumination, and bookbinding) are under the jurisdiction of the General Research and Humanities Division, examples being of course represented in the Special Collections. Folk art of the European peoples in the Americas is in the Art and Architecture Division. Archaeology as such is not collected by the division, although materials on the arts of ancient cultures are.

The division does not collect slides or reproductions and illustrations as such, although it does selectively acquire illustrations of the works of individual artists for its clipping files. The library's largest pictorial archive is the Picture Collection, a unit of the Branch Libraries. There pictorial material is arranged by subject or by artist and is sourced so that users may locate and consult the book, journal, or other publication containing the picture.

Correspondence, journals, diaries, and sketch-books of artists, architects, and others are held by the Manuscripts and Archives Division. Among those represented are such figures as Alexander Jackson Davis, Asher B. Durand, Charles F. McKim, and James Abbot McNeil Whistler.

Additional resources in art, costume, stage design, and related fields are found in the Theatre and Dance Collections of the Performing Arts Research Center.